小我造神:超越時代的《焚屍人》new



creamtor 1

不要被《焚屍人》的視覺風格嚇怕,你可能說電影充斥黑色荒謬,但它不像奧遜威爾斯(Orson Welles)的《審判》(The Trial,1962)般最終歸於虛無命運與神秘定理。男主人翁確夫尼高(Kopfrkingl,Rudolf Hrušínský飾)走出扭曲心路,導演尤拉伊赫茲(Juraj Herz)以唯物風景去襯托,打破約定俗成、穩定的單一邏輯。片中自我的敍事策略,鎖定了對立層次之間辯證/並存的基本狀態,當中收納大量個體理性與倫理秩序、社會時代與族群歷史的經驗,構築成客觀在前、主觀在後,既連貫又跳脫,兼具宏觀微觀視角的現代性敍事結構。

赫茲旁徵博引「思覺邊緣」的視覺想像,廣泛包容現代電影語言的新可能性:心理回溯依循佛洛依德(Sigmund Freud)精神,敍述與「被敍述」的轉換帶來的疏離效果則借鏡布萊希特(Bertolt Brecht),亦通過愛森斯坦(Sergei Eisenstein)的知性蒙太奇觸及前衛印象電影的夢魘,當然還包含了赫茲與揚史雲梅耶(Jan Švankmajer)經年合作的傀儡木偶動畫經驗。我試試擔當嚮導,以電影頭十多分鐘段落,帶大家遊覽赫茲電影語言的迷宮布局。

確夫尼高一家四口遊動物園,他是一位敬業的火化場負責人,同時是一位上司、丈夫和父親。這一天他頭腦靈敏心情大好,展開自白;我們見到他站在豹子籠前,特寫鏡頭得見嘴巴在說話,這是十七年前他遇上妻子的地方,很有紀念性。警覺的目光正在觀看,配以不同動物的特寫,動物的眼睛也成重點,有蛇、犀牛、鱷魚、孔雀、猩猩、獅子及象。確夫尼高感受到上帝恩賜、天地仁厚,對現狀無可埋怨,自覺心中有神。人與動物剪接在一起,看來有「齊物」論調,以確氏的目光帶動,有意無意看到籠子柱子,加上他的指點解說,此時此處顯得高人一等,神聖過人。赫茲在整場戲建立着表裏互轉、層層相扣的辯證特色:他在拍確氏,確氏對妻子說話,忽然又直望鏡頭取得話語權,第一、二人稱與第三人稱沒有捆綁地轉來轉去。

換個切入點,說一說景深效果。出遊同行的還有新僱員史特勞斯,確氏介紹他出場,遠鏡近鏡相接,視角變動幅度頗寬,當史特勞斯走近時,淺景深近景模糊效果首次出現。赫茲委實將電影修辭所形成的物理比較性一一羅列,無時無刻讓眾人畫面的客觀現實與個人特寫的主觀心緒互動。整場戲停在四口子站於鏡子柱下望鏡微笑一刻,鏡像經凸鏡反映,輕微扭曲,然而這還是存於現實;到了影片末段,當魚眼鏡頭再出現時,已是確氏逾越思覺邊緣走上失心不歸之路。

片頭字幕過後,場景轉到由確夫尼高主持的行業晚餐聚會,依然由他敍述及被敍述。比起在動物園,第二人稱稍為退場,「焚屍人」的第一與第三人稱聲音直接對碰,共同仿造出像DNA雙螺旋結構般的敍事體,定調了全片敍事格局。確氏接待客人滿有風度,他拿出他「一個人的聖經」,那是一本西藏宗教畫冊,隨着布達拉宮封面的特寫鏡頭,時空跳接,他已站在演講台上。自此,這樣的時間跳接經常出現,成為《焚屍人》一個獨特修辭,隱若像確夫尼高「小我」的幻技:變更自己的時間,控制別人的人心。他驕傲地說:焚化場很得上帝歡心,痛苦是邪惡,死亡是提升,回歸塵土是自由、啟蒙和轉世。同時間,畫面再一次帶動參考式的蒙太奇,一堆苦難主題的壁畫圖片「被」他的意識引述。了解《焚》片的現代敍事架構後,即可毫無滯礙地追隨確氏的一舉一動,即使他不動神色,一貫以假面對外,他何時挫敗、疑慮、壓抑、掩藏,我都不再走漏眼。不是兩個或以上的確夫尼高在表演,而是確夫尼高的自我/小無時無刻與外內界抗爭,他的常態失態磨合成新的日常態,直至小我披着喇嘛袍現身,確夫尼高才又分裂開來。

起初,他自負擁有純拉斯夫血統。到曉得有點日耳曼血緣,本來有點失望,後來被修正成人生轉機,正宗的愛國情操讓步,乘着納粹德國崛起的時機,自信可成為更優越人種。可是血緣調查下去,自己竟然被「低等民族」血統污染,確夫尼高不視之為命運捉弄,而是命運的考驗,恰恰他的「死亡超升論」可以去「壞血」,天國不遠,布達拉宮之錯覺就在身邊。

無疑,確夫尼高的思覺失調是扭曲時代的某種極端寫照,赫茲是納粹集中營中倖存的孩子,《焚》片可視為他近距離體驗納粹之惡的非常想像,看穿優越主義的妄念人格。然而漢娜鄂蘭(Hannah Arendt)卻進一步說穿那是「平庸的邪惡」(The Banality of Evil),提醒我們像確夫尼高這種「焚屍人」有其普遍性,自我良好的感覺、自私地背棄人性,根本是敗壞時代的扭曲常態。沒有這種打從心底崇拜權力的人提供條件,法西斯極權沒可能這樣輕易就盯住人類的歷史命運。歷史在輪迴,正如博比介紹《焚屍人》時說得準:「(赫茲)身處1969回看1939,我們則身處2019回看1969。鄰近極權的威脅如影隨形⋯⋯這樣的瘋子就在你我左右。」事到如今,嚴謹正見吧。

cremator

Sub-ego Creating Its God

Don't be intimidated by the visual style of The Cremator. You may say it's full of black humour but it doesn't end in nihilism or mysticism as in Orson Welles' The Trial. Director Juraj Herz laid out Kopfrkingl's (played by Rudolf Hrušínský) twisted journey in a materialistic landscape which broke down the habitual, static and singular logic. The egocentric narrative strategy established the basic condition of the dialectic and co-habitual relationship of confrontational spheres. There are also elements of individual rationality, ethic order, social environment and tribal history, combined into an objective yet subjective, coherent yet jumpy, macroscopic yet microscopic narrative structure.

By way of a psychotic point of view Herz explored the possibility of the modern film language. He took Freud's psychological reminiscences, Brecht's alienation effect in the narrator-cum-narrated relationship, Eisenstein's intellectual montage and the nightmarish vision of avant-garde cinema. Also, there's Herz's previous collaboration with Švankmajer in the latter's puppet animation as well. I'll take you through the first ten minutes or so into Herz's cinematic labyrinth.

Kopfrkingl takes his family of four to the zoo. He's been a diligent cremator, on top of that he's also a manager, husband and father. He's in good mood today and starts his monologue in front of a leopard cage. This is also the spot where he has met his wife 17 years ago. The animals are scrutinized in detail, especially their eyes: snake, rhinoceros, crocodile, peacock, gorilla, lion and elephant. Feeling God's grace Kopfrkingl is grateful for what he has and senses the presence of God in his heart. Kopfrkingl's introduction of the animals clearly sets himself to be above them. Herz editing around Kopfrkingl and his wife is a messing around the first, second and third person perspectives.

Let's look at the depth of the images. Strauss' appearance are presented in both long and close shots, as he approaches the image becomes increasingly shallow-focussed. Such usage of cinematic vocabulary reflects the fluctuation of the subjective state of mind against an objective reality. As the shot halts at the family standing and smiling by the mirror, the image is slightly crooked as it is reflected by a convex mirror. Nevertheless, this image is still rooted in reality. Towards the end of the film, as we see Kopfrkingl's face being twisted by a fish-eye lens, we know he's lost his mind for sure.

The scene after the opening credits is the guild dinner hosted by Kopfrkingl, who's still narrating and being narrated. The second person perspective has left the scene, leaving the first and third person colliding with each other, resembling a DNA-like double helix narrative. Kopfrkingl plays his role as host with grace and shows his "bible", the Tibetan Book of the Dead, after the cutaway to the photo of the Potala Palace, Kopfrkingl is already on the rostrum. Such temporal jump cuts are a feature of The Cremator, it is as if Kopfrkingl's ego plays around with his own time and controls the hearts of others. He declares with pride that the crematorium is much favoured by God, pain is evil, death is sublimation, returning to dust is freedom, enlightenment and reincarnation. Cut to a referential montage sequence of frescoes related to suffering that is also a quotation of his consciousness.

Understanding such a modern narrative structure is the key to follow Kopfrkingl's every move. I could spot all his feelings of defeat, doubt, repression and camouflage under his deadpan face. There aren't two Kopfrkingls but his ego and sub-ego fighting the outside world. His normal and abnormal states merge into a new normal state. As the sub-ego appears in a Tibetan frock Kopfrkingl once again splits into two.

Kopfrkingl is initially proud of his Slavic blood. He's let down by the revelation of his German ancestry but then sees that as the chance for a breakthrough as the Nazis gain power in Germany. But then he finds out his blood is tainted by an inferior race. He refuses to see it as a twist of fate but takes it as a trial: he attempts to try out his sublimation theory to get rid of the "bad blood". Potala Palace is so close, and so is Heaven.

Kopfrkingl's psychosis is surely reflective of the times. As a Holocaust survivor, Herz's extraordinary re-imagination of Nazi terror is also a critique of the obsession of racial supremacy. Yet Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" reminds us of the evilness of a character like Kopfrkingl. His contentment and misanthropy is the twisted norm of a decadent era. Fascism fed on such power worship and grasped the fate of mankind. History repeats itself and as Bobby Kwok puts it, "The filmmaker looks back at 1939 from 1969 while we're looking back at 1969 from 2019. The threat of our neighbouring totalitarian government hangs over us every day... maniacs like him will continue to live among us."

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